Sales of Small Pickups in the US rose by 13% in Q2 2016 to 112,476 vehicles, after an 18% increase in Q1. Even then, total sales in this segment are less than a fifth of those in the Large Pickup segment, though the gap continues to narrow with manufacturers launching new entries to the segment after ignoring it for a number of years. Toyota has refreshed its Tacoma less than a year ago, GM re-entered the segment in 2014 with two models after abandoning small pickups in 2012 and Honda has just launched a new generation Ridgeline. The oldest model in the segment is the Nissan Frontier, which has been around virtually unchanged since 2004. While in other parts of the world the next generation Frontier (called NP300 and/or Navara) has already been introduced, Nissan USA has not revealed if and when that new pickup truck will make it Stateside. Of course, it’s not that hard to imagine the company first wants to lay its focus on a successful launch of the second generation Titan, a vehicle that should help Nissan establish a foothold in the highly profitable but Detroit-3 dominated full-sized pickup segment.
Highlights in H1 2016:
- Apparently there’s no need to replace the Frontier anytime soon, as it’s the fastest growing model in the top-4, despite being the oldest by a country mile. Its sales increased by 50% in Q2 and the Frontier holds on to third place with a 20% share of the segment.
- Then again, small pickup buyers apparently have other priorities than how fresh the model is, as the previous generation of the dominant leader Toyota Tacoma also peaked in its final years. As a result, the new generation which went on sale last September is up only 7% on the outgoing model.
- The share of the GM twins Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon has remained virtually stable, from 31.3% in the first half of 2015 to 32.5% this year.
- The all-new Honda Ridgeline, the only unibody pickup in the segment has been launched in June, and in its first (partial) month of sales it already came close to the Canyon volume, indicating that it’s aiming for a fourth place of the segment from Q3 onwards. It will be interesting to see if there’s a strong demand for a pickup that’s less rugged and capable, but offers more comfort and practicality, or as I called it: the feminine pickup truck.